Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Main Street Stories: Thomas W. Hacker block

Thomas W. Hacker built a new brick building at 330 S. Main St. in the summer of 1886, to house his meat market. A description in the Rochester Era gives us a glimpse of what a state-of-the-art meat market looked like 124 years ago:
The new building is 20x70 ft., two stories high, with a fine cellar under all. The salesroom is 20x30 ft., with full plate glass front, and furnished with a marble-top counter. Just back of this room is the ice-box eleven feet square, where the meats for immediate use are kept, the contents being plainly visible through a plate glass front running the width of the box.
The business was known as the Palace Meat Market, and in an ad for the grand opening of the new store, sirloin steaks were offered for twelve cents a pound.
Four years later, there was major activity on the east side of Main, between Third and Fourth, where the Palace Meat Market was located. Charles A. Burr was building the Opera House block, and his brother Frank Burr was building a two-store block adjacent to the Opera House on the south. One lot stood between Frank Burr's new block and the Palace Meat Market, so Thomas W. Hacker tore down the small building that stood there and built another new brick store to fill in the block. The Era reported:
The Hacker brick building adjoining his meat market has been torn down to make room for a new one, which will be erected in connection with the Burr stores. When this full block is completed it will be an ornament and the pride of the village. Work on it is steadily being pushed forward, a full corps of workmen being employed thereon.
The new building bore the address of 332 S. Main. Over the years, occupants of the two Hacker buildings included Wiley & Bitters, the T.E. Nichols Furniture and Undertaking business, Bebout's restaurant, and Mitzelfeld's at 330, and Nichols Furniture, Pixley Furniture and Mitzelfeld's at 332. Once the Mitzelfeld block expanded to absorb the buildings at 330 and 332 S. Main, the storefronts became part of the Mitzelfeld facade and used the Mitzelfeld address number. After Mitzelfeld's closed, the buildings formerly known as 330-332 became 324 S. Main. O'Connor's Public House is currently located there.

This postcard view of the Hacker block from the collection of the Rochester Hills Public Library shows the buildings as they looked around 1912.

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